Elbow and arm pain
Elbow and arm pain isn’t usually a sign of anything serious. If it doesn’t go away after a few weeks, see a GP.
How you can ease elbow and arm pain yourself
Try these things for a couple of days:
- put a pack of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel on your arm - do this for 5 minutes, 3 times a day
- take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen
- raise the arm if it's swollen
See a GP if:
- the pain doesn't go away after a few weeks
Get an urgent GP appointment if your arm:
- hurts when you exercise but the pain goes away when you rest
- is swollen and you have a very high temperature or feel hot and shivery
These can be signs of a heart problem (angina) or an infection.
Go to a minor injuries clinic or A&E if you've injured your arm and:
- it's extremely painful and difficult to move
- you have bruising and swelling
- you have tingling and numbness
- you heard a snap and your arm has changed shape
These could be signs of a broken arm and you need an X-ray.
Causes of elbow and arm pain
Apart from an injury, these things can cause arm pain.
Don't self-diagnose. See a GP if you're worried.
|Main symptoms||Possible cause|
|Pain, stiffness, difficulty moving, swelling||tendonitis, for example tennis elbow|
|Pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling||sprains and strains|
|Pain, stiffness coming down from the shoulder||frozen shoulder|
|Pain and stiffness in the joints||arthritis|
|Temperature of 38C or above, feeling shivery, skin broken around the shoulder||inflamed shoulder (bursitis)|
If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.